Denise Stewart & Pat Pitingolo: T42, 24T

JANUARY 8 - JANUARY 30, 2016

Denise Stewart and Pat Pitingolo are two artists that have fallen under the influence of tea. They both use stained tea fiber, as well as other remnants of deconstructed tea bags in their artwork, blurring the line between textile and fine art. By using what is thrown away or overlooked, Denise and Pat give their viewers new appreciation for the beauty that is all around us.

Opening Reception: Friday, January 8 from 7-9 pm

Denise Stewart Artist Statement

Denise Stewart’s love of birds combines with her dedication to recycling in the use of stained tea bag fiber and screen printing. Her combination of botanicals and birds recall the designs and ornamentation found on English china and wallpapers.

Stewart fell in love with stained tea fiber a decade ago as a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art. This process of deconstructing used tea bags, continues in her work to this day. The material possesses a history, present in the stains and wear on its surface. She responds to the marks that are intrinsic to each segment. Any color or pattern that is added must interact with what is already present. Sewn together, they become a type of calendar or diary- a marker of time.

Her love of birds began as a child. Stewart’s parents raised budgerigar parakeets and her first pet was a sweet, tame fellow that sat atop her head as she played inside the house. In recent years she has become an avid bird watcher and spends hours drawing and printing images in her art.

By using what is thrown away or overlooked she gives her viewers a new appreciation for the beauty that is all around us. Stewart’s work challenges our concepts of past and present, what should be cast off and what should be held dear.

Denist Stewart Artist Statement for "Baggage"

This piece contains an accumulation of materials that I have been collecting since 2006 when I was preparing for my Bachelor of Fine Art senior exhibition at the Cleveland Institute of Art. I became enamored with the beautiful staining found on the dried fiber of discarded tea bags. Sewing them together, I created a printing surface that already holds a history; including the time the tea was brewed and sipped. The segments sewn together create a type of calendar, each square representing a day, or conversation, or moment in time.

But I also could not part with the colorful tags, strings and even the staples that I painstakingly removed from each tea bag. Artists often save such detritus for a future project. Mine came to being when I was given this old suitcase.

This artwork is about the “baggage” that we carry into each new relationship that we enter. There are often strings attached to what we give of ourselves, because we are tied to the past by the accumulated experiences of our lives. Like the open case spewing forth its contents, our own history pours out from our mouths as we converse, with intimacy shared over a cup of tea. We always react to circumstances and ideas through the lens of our experiences- both good and bad.

Some of this baggage is well known to us personally, or by those who love us. But some is hidden within the confines of the suitcase, and can only be accessed by a purposeful unlocking and opening.

And, of course, there is the double entendre; “Baggage” is literally an accumulation of a lot of bags.

Pat Pitingolo Artist Statement

Arrange whatever pieces come your way. --Virginia Woolf

My artwork is the result of combining and arranging the everyday material that finds its way into my life. The concept of using many parts to create a whole forms the basis for my art and is what I see as a reflection of life itself. Like life, making art is not about what you have, but how you see it and what you choose to do with it. Here, used tea bags, old book pages and fabric are stitched together to create simple patterns and designs. Individually, the pieces appear mundane and insignificant. However, when arranged and joined together, a pattern emerges or a story is told.

I find inspiration in utilitarian textile art such as folk art quilts and Japanese boro cloth. Much like boro (which uses everything, wastes nothing, and honors the value of time spent), I use every little bit and piece including that which is normally considered salvage to be thrown away. In the process, I pay homage to our ancestral grandmothers for what they have taught us about thrift and stitch. It is my desire to express the wabi sabi aesthetic of beauty in simplicity, economy and imperfection. Every strip and stitch is a gentle reminder to appreciate the value of time spent in creative pursuits and to honor the present moment. I believe that to create is to believe in the here and now.

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